Tributes and Excerpts

Roger Kimball, editor of The New Criterion, offers his tribute to the late Sir Roger Scruton, British author, scholar and consummate gentleman:  “I delighted in witnessing his polemical nimbleness—it could be devastating—but unlike many able debaters there was an essential gentleness about Sir Roger that tempered and complicated his ferocity. An obituary in The Times touched on one element of this gentleness when it quoted his observation that ‘Left-wing people find it very hard to get on with right-wing people because they believe that they are evil. Whereas I have no problem getting on with left-wing people because I simply believe that they are mistaken.’”

That other great contemporary British writer, Theodore Dalrymple, also pays his respects to Sir Roger in The City Journal: “In his last and moving article in The Spectator… he stressed the importance of gratitude for what one has been fortunate enough to inherit. Take nothing for granted, preserve what is worth preserving, understand the fragility of things, remember debts to the past as well as to the future, take delight in the world. Such was the lasting message of this exceptionally gifted man.” I have had the pleasure of discussing Sir Roger’s philosophy in past commentaries, and expect to read and reflect on his writings for many years to come.

Naomi Shaefer Riley, reviews the book Abandoned (by Anne Kim) about “America’s lost youth”: “In some cases kids drop out of school because they need to help support their families; but in other cases, they do so because they find school ‘boring,’ a reaction that Ms. Kim blames on standardized tests. Of course, over the generations, if not the millennia, children have found school boring — even before the advent of standardized tests. She is on surer footing when she turns to other demoralizing educational trends: the emphasis on everyone, no matter how ill-suited, going to a four-year college, for instance, or the de-emphasis on vocational training and apprenticeships. To a young-adult student who wants to get a job after high school, the options are few, and high school itself may come to feel irrelevant.” The mainstream educational options in developed countries have become increasingly bureaucratic, expensive and ideologically repressive, to the point that they are often counterproductive, both for the individual and society as a whole.

In another column for The New Criterion, media critic James Bowman discusses the overlooked irony behind the recent closing of the “Newseum” in Washington, D.C., due to declining attendance. Bowman notes that “Journalists are good tearing things down but are never more transparently phony than when building things up–especially when it it is themselves that they are building up. They exist to expose and humiliate our secular heroes and, in more and more cases, to destroy them, but that can never make the journalists themselves into heroes, except in their own conceit.”

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